8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the Lights Go Out

Will you be able to turn on the lights in the dark? If not, then take the time to prepare in case of a blackout.

As it’s still hot in many parts of the country, many small businesses (and people in general) are using more power than normal to keep things cools and to keep things running. Because more power is being used, more small businesses are at risk for brownouts and blackouts, which can have a negative impact if you’re not prepared.

“If you can’t access your applications, employees are no longer productive,” said Jim Lippie, President of the Thrive Networks, a Staples company. “You need technology to run and to operate.”

It doesn’t always take severe weather to shut off or to affect your power supply, but an affected power supply could mean sending your employees home for the day, or even damaged hardware. To prepare for a power outage, here are eight questions a small business needs to ask before the lights go out:

1.      Are all of your business critical systems (servers, Firewalls, Routers, Switches, Backup devices, etc) plugged exclusively into one or multiple UPS devices?

2.       Do those UPS devices contain sufficient runtime to allow for safe and effective powering down of all connected devices? When did you last perform a runtime calibration on your UPS devices?

3.       Are your UPS batteries over 2 years old? Generally speaking if this is the case you should replace them with new ones and send back or properly dispose of the old batteries.

4.       Is the software, cables, adapter cards, or other hardware required to have the UPS send an automatic shutdown signal to the attached devices present in your infrastructure?

5.       Is the shutdown software configured properly? When was the last time you tested it by simulating a power failure and ensuring safe shutdown of network servers and devices?

6.       Are you currently monitoring your UPS devices such that power events will proactively send an alert notification by email, page or other mechanism to IT staff who can respond?

7.       Do you have desktop grade UPS devices in place to protect workstation assets in your organization from power events? Is your standard procedure to purchase a desktop grade UPS device with every new workstation that you purchase?

8.       Do you have a Business Continuity Plan or other document to keep your business running in the event of a prolonged power outage? We often think of the power being out for days as inconceivable, but remember the ice storm of 2008. Several communities were out for a week or longer. It can happen.

Lippie says that if anything, the three most important things are to have your on-premise devices monitored, to consider a cloud option as a back up, and to have a business continuity plan in place in the event of a prolonged power outage.

A business continuity plan ought to active and consistently maintained by an internal IT person. It ought to include actionable steps like how to get your systems back up and running, how you are going to communicate with employees, and how the business will operate if its a prolonged power outage. If you need help with answering any of these questions, it’s best either to speak with your IT staff or your IT provider on the specific that can be done.

“You need to be cognizant of what you need to do,” Lippie said. ” The infrastructure should be up and running, with access to the apps necessary to run your business.”


About Allison Midori Reilly

Allison Midori Reilly is the CEO and Founder of Stirring Media, LLC. Stirring Media, LLC is a content marketing and news production firm that provides content marketing and business blogging services to the small business market. Prior to that, she was a freelance writer, who was published in over a dozen print and online publications, such as Smallbiztechnology.com, American City & County, Ideabing.com, Transport Topics and St. Louis Commerce Magazine. In her spare time, Reilly is an active member of Amnesty International as well as an avid poker player.